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Declaration of the Rights of Man
Updated: 11/12/2019
Declaration of the Rights of Man
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Storyboard Text

  • We can be equally represented under the law!
  • I have the right to practice any religion I choose!
  • I can participate in government now!
  • We finally have equal representation under the law!
  • Hey, what about us?
  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man was a document created in the August of 1789. It was influenced by French writers and philosophers and prefaced the French Revolution. These writers and philosophers included Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Montesquieu. The document was originally written by the Marquis de Lafayette with the help of Thomas Jefferson, and they presented it to the French National Assembly who revised and adopted it. It was felt the document was needed in order to establish the rights of French citizens and to change the way the third estate was treated by the monarchy.
  • The main idea of the Declaration of the Rights of Man was that “all men are born and remain free and equal in rights”. The document consisted of 17 articles which outlined the basic rights and treatment of all people, such as equal judicial representation, rights to private property, and the right to participate in legislature. It also included freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and aimed to eliminate the legal privileges of the monarchy and clergy. At the time, the declaration was only directed toward “active citizens” who were men above the age of 25 who worked and paid taxes. However, it went on to set a universal example for basic human and civil rights.
  • One of the main ideas of the declaration was that the nation’s sovereignty lies with the people, not the king. After the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the absolute monarchy of France was abolished and replaced with a constitutional monarchy, and also replaced the Divine Right of Kings. The document led to the creation of France’s constitution and served as its preamble. The new declaration, however, did not mention a woman’s rights, and in October after the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the women of France petitioned for their rights in front of the National Assembly. This also prompted the 1791 Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, written by Olympe de Gouges.
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